New York Yankees: Breaking Down the Three Potential DH Candidates
When the Super Bowl ends, a lot of fans who aren't into basketball and hockey immediately turn their attention to baseball season coming back.
For me, I'm still on the high over the New York Giants winning the Super Bowl this week, but I am getting anxious for the 2012 season to kick off.
The Yankees are almost set to break camp with their 2012 roster, but they are still missing the one piece that they are searching for—the designated hitter.
Both DH's from 2011 are now gone, with Jorge Posada retiring last month and Jesus Montero being traded to the Seattle Mariners, so it leaves a hole in the Yankees' starting lineup.
Buster Olney from ESPN reported that the Yankees are in the mix for three potential candidates to be the designated hitter in 2012.
Two of them are former Yankees and fan favorites. The other is a veteran they've seen before in the playoffs.
Lets take a look at the possible DH candidates and see who might fit the best.
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Ever since the Yankees and Johnny Damon didn't come to terms following the 2009 season, his name has always come up for a reunion.
The Yankees talked about bringing him back for 2011, but they decided to go with Andruw Jones because they needed a right-handed bat off the bench, which lead to Damon signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.
In 150 games for Tampa last season, Damon hit .261 with 16 home runs and 73 RBI while playing 133 games at the DH spot (16 in left field, one at first base.)
Damon always benefited from the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium, and he's always been up to coming back to the Yankees.
His days of playing the outfield regularly are behind him, but he's still a valuable bat to have, and as Spring Training gets closer, his price tag can certainly drop down as well, which could entice the Yankees to sign him.
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Since leaving the Yankees after the 2009 season, Hideki Matsui has played out on the West Coast primarily.
He played with the Angels in 2010 and last season with the Oakland A's.
In 2011, Matsui hit .251 with 12 home runs and 72 RBI, which could be attributed to Oakland Coliseum not being a hitter-friendly park.
In 141 games for Oakland, Matsui played 110 of them as the DH, and played the remaining 31 as a left fielder, so he still can play the field some.
But even when he was on the Yankees, his knees were a major concern, and he had to get them drained at times.
The man known as "Godzilla" was always a fan-favorite to the Yankees, and he left a lasting impression on Yankee fans when he tore up the Phillies in Game 6 of the 2009 World Series, which led to him winning the 2009 World Series MVP Award.
While I'm sure Matsui wouldn't mind a reunion with his former team, it all depends on Yankees GM Brian Cashman and his interest in Matsui.
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On Monday, Ken Rosenthal from FOX Sports tweeted that the Yankees and former Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez were in "serious discussions" regarding a contract.
Rosenthal said that Ibanez was willing to accept less money to play for the Yankees in 2012, which is something Brian Cashman would be attracted to for the roster.
While Ibanez's average was down in 2011, hitting only .245, his power numbers were steady, hitting 20 home runs and 84 RBI for the Phillies.
In the 144 games he played in last season, because he was in the National League, he played almost every game at left field, so he could still play if needed for the Yankees.
Before playing for the Phillies for three seasons, Ibanez was no stranger to playing in the American League, playing 10 years with the Seattle Mariners and three with the Kansas City Royals.
Ibanez hit very well at Citizens Bank Park, which is regarded as a hitter-friendly park, so by putting him into Yankee Stadium, you could almost expect the same results, and maybe even better given the short porch in right field.
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When you look at the video blog by Buster Olney from ESPN, he thinks that Raul Ibanez is the favorite for the Yankees' DH spot.
When you look at the video blog by Jim Duquette and former Yankee Jeff Nelson from Yankees.com and MLB.com, they were both split on who they thought was better; Duquette thought Ibanez was the best choice, while Nelson thought either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui were.
Nelson only thought that because Ibanez isn't keen on strictly being a DH, while Damon and Matsui have gotten used to it over the last two years.
But Duquette made a great point in that Ibanez is still in great shape at age 39 and isn't a defensive liability in the outfield, like Damon and Matsui are now.
One thing that Brian Cashman likes having on his roster is versatility and being able to have guys play at different spots; Ibanez would be able to bring that.
He wouldn't have to be strictly a DH, although that's what the Yankees would use him mostly as.
God forbid that Brett Gardner goes down with an injury, Ibanez can easily step in and play every day at left field. I don't know if Damon or Matsui could do that regularly anymore.
All three players are good guys to have in the Yankee clubhouse, so personality and attitude is not an issue with any of them whatsoever.
But I think what it really comes down to is the versatility factor, and Ibanez has the edge in that over Damon and Matsui.
Olney said the Yankees will likely make a decision within the next week or two.
I think the Yankees next DH will end up being Raul Ibanez.